limit damage from mines and IEDs.
As the sun breaks the horizon, the Taliban fighters, cold and damp from a night spent on full alert, peer through narrow gun ports, watching for the assault they know is coming. They are tense, but not overwhelmed with fear: Their bunker is well hidden and strongly reinforced, and a similar structure nearby provides an interlocking field of fire with plenty of protection if the Coalition troops get too close. Mines and IEDs proliferate in the open area to the bunker’s front, making the space an unusually lethal kill zone. Even if all else fails, an escape tunnel will enable the bunker’s defenders to slip away and exit from a hatch concealed in a building nearby. Suddenly, a mortar round explodes just yards from the gun port, and other shells strike in quick succession in a line toward the structure as the Allied mortar crew brackets their target. Machine guns open fire, and the fighters in the bunker watch tracer rounds illuminate the fading darkness as they strike harmlessly outside. The fighters prepare to return fire, waiting for Marines to move into the kill zone then set off the explosives waiting for them. They see no one, however, and instead hear the rumble of heavy armor. Is a tank coming? That could mean trouble, but the bunker is strong and its profile, low and obscured, does not present a clear shot for a tank gunner.
Meet The Shredder
Suddenly, from around a building, a huge tracked vehicle emerges and rumbles purposefully toward their position. This is no tank. Instead of a gun, the vehicle mounts an enormous shark-toothed plow with large skis on brackets extending in front, making the big earth mover look vaguely like a praying mantis. In seconds, the huge plow, its armor impervious to defensive fire, churns through the minefield, hardly slowing as mines detonate under the massive plow, and begins to gouge into the bunker, ripping out concrete and steel reinforcement, making quick work of what seemed like an impregnable fort. Suddenly, there is no place to hide and no place to run. For these insurgents, there will be no opportunity to fight the Americans again.
In the recent assault by Coalition forces against the Taliban stronghold in Marjah, Afghanistan, this scenario was all too real for insurgents who resisted the Marines of the 2nd Expeditionary Brigade, and British and Afghan Army infantrymen who took the town. The battle gave the new Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV), aptly nicknamed the Shredder, one of its first tests in combat, a test the remarkable engineering vehicle passed with considerable distinction.